What is Ebola?

aesha 3By Aesha Jones

Ebola has been on the rise in West Africa and four cases were identified in the United States. Hospitals around the country are preparing to assist in Ebola cases including University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Some students are concerned about the spread of the virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola Virus Disease is a rare and deadly illness that is an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding. It is spread through contact with infected body fluids.

People who are at high risk for contracting Ebola are healthcare workers and people caring for family members and friends who are infected with the virus. Close contact with blood and other bodily fluids from contaminated bedding, syringes, clothing or medical equipment may spread the disease.

Ebola recently spread across Africa specifically in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A few cases were found in the United States. Of those four cases, three survived. The late Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia died in a Texas hospital on Oct. 8 from Ebola.

As concerns begin to rise about the spread of the virus, preparations are underway throughout the country and in Las Vegas.

“We have a lot of plans and preparations in place if we were to receive an Ebola patient,” says Danita Cohen, the executive director of strategic development and marketing at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. “This involves training for our staff and for all of the special personal protective equipment or gear in order to prepare for a patient who is probably contagious. Patient would be cared for in an isolated area in our hospital.”

Students at the College of Southern Nevada expressed their concerns on the spread of the virus and traveling at this time.

Stephanie Lyte, a CSN student, says, “The Ebola virus is a very scary reality. I certainly don’t plan on traveling out of the country anytime soon. If I did, I would think carefully about my destination and my traveling options. I do have faith that America will nip this in the bud before it gets uncontrollable.”

“Well, I don’t plan on traveling out of the country anytime soon,” says Ashlee Godwin, a CSN student. “I’m not concerned about Ebola because there are other things that can happen out there too. It’s not easy to catch so I’m not going to waste time worrying.”

According to President Barack Obama during a conference on Oct. 28, 2014, there will be a mandatory quarantine for healthcare workers returning to the States who have had contact with Ebola patients.

“From increasing the number of Ebola treatment units and burial teams to expanding the pipeline of medical personnel, equipment and supplies, to launching an aggressive education campaign in-country, American health-care workers in Africa are the strategic and operational backbone of America’s response to the virus,” says Obama during the conference.

“Early recognition of the virus is critical for infection control,” according to the CDC. “Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days of exposure which are: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhaging.”

According to the CDC, there is no FDA approved vaccine for the Ebola virus. Safety precautions that can be used to prevent contracting and spreading the virus includes the following: proper hand washing and the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding blood and body fluids, and avoid funerals or burial rituals that include the handling of the body of someone who has died from Ebola. Also avoid hospitals in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated.

If traveling abroad, upon return monitor health for 21 days and seek medical attention if displaying symptoms of the Ebola virus.

For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/about.html.

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